International

Hajj 2024: Over 550 Dead In Mecca As Scorching Heat Hits Challenging Pilgrimage

The Hajj is one of the 'Five Pillars' of Islam and its rituals largely commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail, who is regarded as his son, Ismail's mother Hajar and Prophet Muhammad, according to Islam's holy book Quran.

AP
The Hajj is one of the 'Five Pillars' of Islam Photo: AP
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At least 550 pilgrims died during the hajj due as scorching temperatures makes the gruelling nature of the pilgrimage even more difficult this year. At least 323 of those who died were Egyptians, most of them succumbing to heat-related illnesses, two Arab diplomats coordinating their countries' responses told news agency AFP.

All the Egyptians died because of heat except for one who sustained fatal injuries during a minor crowd crush, the AFP report cited one of the diplomats as saying.

The diplomat added that the total figure came from the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighbourhood of Mecca.

According to the diplomats, apart from the Egyptians, at least 60 Jordanians also died, up from an official tally of 41 given earlier on Tuesday by the country.

The new deaths bring the total reported so far by multiple countries to 577, according to AFP tally. The diplomats said the total at the morgue in Al-Muaisem, one of the biggest in Mecca, was 550.

Hajj Pilgrimage

The Hajj is one of the 'Five Pillars' of Islam and its rituals largely commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail, who is regarded as his son, Ismail's mother Hajar and Prophet Muhammad, according to the Quran, Islam's holy book.

In the Islamic version, God stayed his hand and Ismail was spared.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to chop off a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Mecca for the city of Medina, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad's tomb, the Sacred Chamber.

The Sacred Chamber tomb is part of the prophet's mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Monday, June 17, 2024 Photo: AP
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If physically and financially able to go on Hajj pilgrimage, all Muslims are required to do so at least once in their lives.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed Hajj in 2024, including more than 1.6 million pilgrims from 22 countries, and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents, according to Saudi Hajj authorities cited in an Associated Press report.

The final days of the annual Hajj coincide with Muslims around the world celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday when Muslims pay an ode to Prophet Ibrahim's test of faith, when God ordered him to sacrifice his only son, by slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

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